oil prices

Geopolitical Tensions, Oil Prices and The Economy

Conflict in the Persian Gulf has spurred modest oil price volatility in recent weeks, but prices didn’t spike to high levels seen during some past conflicts. That’s partly because rising U.S. oil production has shaken up the global oil market since 2010. Crude oil prices still react to geopolitical events and other unplanned supply disruptions.…

tax withholding review

Time to Review Your Tax Withholding

The IRS continues to encourage taxpayers to review the amount of tax they have withheld to avoid an unexpected tax surprise when they file their 2019 tax returns next year. Preliminary 2018 tax filing data seems to show the need for taxpayers to review their tax withholding in order to make sure the appropriate amount…

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The Effect of Raising the Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage (FMW), currently $7.25 per hour, hasn’t increased since 2009—the longest stretch with no federal increases since 1938, when the minimum wage was created. Several presidential candidates as well as proposed House Bill H.R. 582, Raise the Wage Act, would raise the FMW. What effect would a wage increase have on wage…

tax refund

New IRS Guidance on Your Tax Refund

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included a $10,000 ($5,000 if married filing separately) cap on the amount of state and local taxes that can be claimed as an itemized deduction on Schedule A of Form 1040. If you itemize deductions that include a deduction for state and local taxes and then subsequently…

529 plan

Using a 529 Plan to Save for College

With the costs of college on the rise, establishing a savings plan early is vital. A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged education savings vehicle and one of the most popular ways to save for college today. It can also be used to save for K-12 tuition. Much like the way 401(k) plans changed the world…

financial planner salem oregon

The Future of Social Security and Medicare

Most Americans will eventually receive Social Security and Medicare benefits. Each year, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds release lengthy reports to Congress that assess the health of these important programs. The newest reports, released on April 22, 2019, discuss the current financial condition and ongoing financial challenges that both programs…

tax scam

2019 Tax Scams

The IRS recently issued its annual list of tax scams. The list highlights various scams that taxpayers may encounter, many of which occur during tax filing season. Here are some of the scams that are highlighted on the list. Phishing Phishing scams usually involve unsolicited emails or fake websites that pose as legitimate IRS sites…